Algae and their amazing virtues.
In your clothes, in the tank of your car or even in the asphalt of the roads, algae will soon be everywhere. And yes, despite its tendency to disturb you when you go swimming in the sea, you are likely to hear more and more about it in the coming years. Indeed, the algae business is booming in many industries.
First and foremost, algae are a vital living organism for our planet and are responsible for nearly 50% of the oxygen we breathe every day.
Algae have the ability to photosynthesize, a process by which organisms produce oxygen using light energy from the sun.
In addition to their contribution to ocean ecosystems and the production of oxygen on the planet, algae have many other amazing virtues and uses.
Already used as a substitute for plastic in the manufacture of all kinds of objects or as superfoods in miracle health recipes, algae are now the subject of much research into their use to create more sustainable materials.
For example, French researchers have developed a bitumen from algae, called “Algoroute“. This material of tomorrow would replace the one we know today, which is made from hydrocarbons, from petroleum, to allow for a more environmentally friendly construction of roads that do not require petroleum or the use of fresh water.
We are not talking about the algae that you see on the beach or when you go swimming, but about microalgae. These microscopic algae, invisible to the naked eye, are already used to make cosmetics or plastic and could now replace oil, especially to make bitumen.
This is what the scientists of the “Algoroute” project have created: a bio-bitumen made from these microalgae which have been subjected to chemical reactions.
How does it work?
The micro-organisms must be liquefied and transformed into a viscous oil so that they form a kind of glue with the same properties as oil.
The practical application of this new bitumen is expected to take a few more years, as it has not yet progressed beyond the laboratory testing stage. It is still to be determined whether its effectiveness lasts over time and how to limit production costs.
A living fabric that fights pollution?
This is what Roya Aghighi, an Iranian-Canadian designer, has developed with a team of scientists at the University of British Columbia. This fabric made from algae, called “Biogarmentry“, is not only biodegradable, but also has the ability to purify the air through photosynthesis.
Your clothes of tomorrow could therefore be alive and fight against global warming.
This very first living fabric is transparent and speckled. Its material is similar to that of a coat.
Roya Aghighi’s ambitions do not stop at creating eco-friendly clothes, she also wants to change our relationship with clothes. She hopes to create a more intimate relationship between the owner and the garment by recognizing that it is alive and should be treated as such. “You’re not going to throw your clothes in the corner of your closet or in the washing machine,” she says in an interview for CNN, “it’s going to change the way we think about our clothes.”
The Biogarmentry is still far from mass production, however, only a few prototypes have been developed by researchers, but this one opens a way to another way of producing clothes. The fashion industry being one of the most polluting, it is indeed high time that its system is reviewed and that mentalities change.
In conclusion, although many of their new uses are still in the testing stage, algae are proving to be an alternative and sometimes even a solution to many of our society’s ecological problems.